BOODLES JEWELLERY SPARKLE AT THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE LONDON
GEMOLOGUE – Why does the Royal Opera House stage so often sparkle with jewellery? The answer surely lies in the courtly origin of opera and ballet!
To celebrate the launch of the new fine jewellery collection Pas Des Deux, inspired by the Royal Ballet, Boodles invited me on a backstage tour of the Royal Opera House, followed by scrumptious Champagne Afternoon Tea in the magnificent surroundings of the iconic building in Covent Garden.
The location of the event, the Royal Opera House, has sparked fond recollections of my carefree childhood in Russia. My mind is filled with many blurred wonderful memories of magical ballets and grand operas, often with my lovely grandmother. Growing up in Russia, it is customary to attend theatre performances on a regular basis, just as you would watch a film at cinema. They make for very entertaining, yet incredibly cultural and educational outings for children.
The backstage tour was a wonderful introduction to the colourful history of one of the leading theatres in the world. We wandered about as the Royal Opera House was preparing to open its doors for the evening performance of La Bohème. Not only did our guide give us a brief and intriguing insight into this theatrical edifice intermingled with a couple of funny and fascinating stories, but I also got a chance to clap my eyes on ballet principals in class, rehearsing for the upcoming production of the Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as seeing impressive backstage technology in operation.
The Royal Opera House when seen from backstage is surprisingly huge – the premises covers over 2.5 acres! The current impressive building itself has been gracing Covent Garden since 1858, a third theatre to be located on this site after the previous theatres burnt down. Theatre has ubiquitous charming period character with plush rich red curtains on the stage and upholstery throughout the seating area and the glittering gold proscenium arch around the stage. It has the power to make any of its patrons feel regal, and every outing here a special occasion, almost a throwback in time to Victorian Era.
We visited the Royal box, which the royal family has used since the 1830s, when Queen Victoria accompanied by her husband would be a frequent visitor to the theatre. There is still a large mirror within the box facing the stage, because the queen’s entourage were not allowed to have their backs to her. They had to catch glimpses of the performance in the mirror instead! Moreover, whenever Queen Victoria came, the lampshades in the box were changed from red to cream, since she did not want to appear red or flushed!
I was fascinated by the jewellery used by ballet dancers and opera singers. Here, jewellery is seen as part of the whole design. Swarovski has financed some productions as well as contributing jewellery for opera prima donnas to wear on stage. Jewellery for dancers rather tricky to manage – absolutely nothing can move as dancers are pirouetting and jumping around the stage to prevent injury. All costumes including all jewellery to accessorise them are designed and created in-house.
George Balanchine’s glittering Jewels ballet was inspired by the beauty of the gem stones he saw in the jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels. The production used costume designs from the original version and new set designs by Jean-Marc Puissant.
When making a necklace for a ballet, the piece is sown onto a flesh-coloured net to make it stay in place as the ballerina is spinning. Every bead in the necklaces has a knot in between in case they tear to prevent havoc from beads flying in all directions. Headdresses and tiaras are small and exquisite, since when the ballerina is on point their partner must support them. Earrings need to be small, no more than mere studs. Often, fabric is put on the back of jewellery to prevent an allergic reaction, since pieces are made from ordinary metals rather than precious ones. Every time a new set of costumes is designed, head designers liaise very closely together with the performers to ensure that they are absolutely comfortable as they are performing.
I am extremely happy to announce that my new jewelry book – GEMOLOGUE: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips – is now on Amazon. I’m so excited. It’s the first book of its kind solely dedicated to jewellery.
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GEMOLOGUE jewelry blog by Liza Urla is a celebration of fine, fashion and vintage jewellery featuring talented jewellery designers, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews. This jewellery blog’s goal is to encourage and educate about jewellery online in a fresh and original fashion to inspire women and men across the globe in a fashion and travelling context.
Jewellery blogger, writer Liza Urla, the founder of GEMOLOGUE, is a London-based and NYC-educated gemologist, who has travelled to and lived in many countries. She is now one of the most influential digital jewellery tastemakers. Her jewellery influence has been acknowledged by Financial Times, The New York Times, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
*Photographed by Julia Flit. Styling and art direction by Liza Urla. All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE.
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